February 9, 2014 2:18:44 am
The slang match between Indian and New Zealand fans in the stands was almost as engaging as the tussle between their teams on the field. At times, even more so. Because unlike the cricket, the banter didn’t stop even during the breaks. The Swami Army members turned up the volume at an otherwise quiet Eden Park as they chanted “Sodhi is an Indian, Sodhi is an Indian”, when Ish Sodhi came on to bowl. They also lofted above their heads a replica of the World Cup trophy, teasing the Kiwi fans a few rows away. The Kiwis, of course, wouldn’t take it lying down and they started chanting at the top of their voice something that sounded from a distance like “Phoney, phoney.” Actually they were saying “four-nil, four-nil.” In this feud the only thing that spilled was beer.
TV viewers may look at empty stands and pronounce it being the death of Test cricket in New Zealand but the fact is a number of fans want to come to Eden Park and watch the cricket. What is stopping them is the prohibitive entrance fee. The daily tickets cost NZ $45 (Rs 2350) per person. One of the spectators told me bringing the whole family would have cost him NZ$250-300, including the cost of food, so he decided to come alone. He said he would of course bring the family along on Sunday as there would be a likelihood of a result. At the coffee shop, I overheard a couple of spectators discussing the ticket prices of another high-profile series. South Africa versus Australia. The grandstand tickets for that game are Rand 60 (NZ$ 6.5) and Rand 30 (NZ $ 3.5). A little more expensive at Eden Park, and the New Zealanders can go to South Africa to watch the Test for the same amount that they would spend over here. Exaggeration obviously, but you get the point.
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